I learned yesterday that Mal Guthrie, G1NOX, Dartford, had gone Silent Key. I never met Mal in person but since my return to radio four years ago we had many contacts, and he came across as a very caring and interesting guy. I know he enjoyed dancing (jiving) and liked old cars, but we discussed so many things.
Mal had OFCOM withhold his details and you would not find him on QRZ.com, yet he was a stalwart on 2 metres SSB, calling CQ pretty much every day on 144.30 SSB. He worked us locals, and up and down the country with a decent set-up and was also on 70 cms. I know he enjoyed working serious VHF DX too, though I think he did not keep much of a log as many of us do.
There will be many people throughout most of the UK who will remember Mal, mostly for 2 metres, and he will be much missed, and certainly very much by me. RIP Mal, a really nice chap.
Since February this year I have added 1296 MHz to my repertoire. I have the 10 watts from the 9700 and my old 23 element Tonna which I used back in Billericay thirty plus years ago when I lived with my parents. That was prior to going QRT for those three decades, but the antenna has been perfectly preserved in the garage.
I started by working at a distance of about 150 miles G8JVM in Shropshire having started on 2 metres. Since then I have managed to work a good few in the UKAC monthly Tuesday night contests and in addition PH0V at 307 km which is 192 miles when conditions were quite good. I also have worked since PG3T at 272 km, 170 miles. I added another country with F4HRD, although Jeff is only 70 miles away.
I have also worked PE1EWR at 202 km a couple of times and PE1JPD at 321 km.
There has not been a really good opening such as I remember from the Eighties, but overall, I am pleased with the progress so far.
Conditions are often not exciting on 2 metres, but I try to maintain my SSB activity, working who I can hear and calling CQ daily. Often after calling CQ for a long time I get no response but notice frequently that my QRZ look-ups have increased by one or two while I have been calling.
So, I say to those looking me up, “why not call me rather than just checking my profile?”.
We had an interesting tropo event starting on 28th December and ending at my QTH on 30th. All QSOs were SSB. Conditions were very good to the East and North East, and good to the South and South West, but surprisingly from my QTH there was less propagation to the South East, so no HB9s etc. On 2 metres I used my newish IC9700 with 100 watts to my 7 element and on 70 cms my FT991 with 50 watts to a 13 element.
On 2 metres amongst others I worked on the 28th:
F5ICN JN03 933km
EA1MX IN73 974km
SM7EQL JO65 940km
GU0UVH IN89 not so far but I had never worked Alderney!
EB1AH IN73 and he was running 5 watts to a 3-element antenna
On 70 cms amongst others and still all on SSB on 29th:
GJ8CEY IN89 not so far but a new country and square on 70 coms
GU6EFB IN89 new country 😊
DJ8MS JO54 793km
OZ9FW JO65 883km
OZ1HDF JO55 852km
OZ9GE JO66 905km
OZ8ZS JO55 851km
EI19RE IO51 New country and square on 70 cms
Conditions were so good for a period that the OZs called me on the back of the beam as I was looking South West.
I know that others worked more DX than did I, but I enjoyed the event and am happy with the results.
We had an interesting opening over the evening of 14th and the following morning. It started with a couple of very strong French stations in JN18. I then found the following all worked on SSB on 14th:
OE5XBL JN68, 700m asl, 988 km
DF6MH/P JN57 2400m asl, 902km
On the morning of 15th when there was a contest in Central Europe:
OM3RM JN88 1263 km!
OE3REC JN77 1147 km
OK1DOL JN69 906 km
OE/OK5SE/P JN77 1137 km
OK1KKI JN79 1059 km
Plus, some more local Continentals.
My return to 2 metres SSB after 30 years absence was only in February 2018, so OE, OK and OM are new countries on the band for me from this QTH. The Slovak Republic was a particular surprise, being so strong and my thinking he was Belgian until he gave his locator. It was early and I was still half asleep; at least that is my excuse.
The above was my first DX foray with my FT991 running 50 watts rather than the 25 watts from my old FT290R and small amplifier, but I am not mothballing the old radio and will keep it ready to go.
We all know there is a lack of activity on 2 metres SSB (and I guess CW), and we have the same problem on 70 centimetres. However, the main thrust I want to make is about 144 MHz
I have quite an effective station on 2 metres. It is true I only run about 25 watts to a 7 element yagi currently, but I have quite a good VHF location for Essex at 68m asl and I reckon under flat conditions I can work up to 200 miles, so more than 300 km under flat conditions. I can reach the Scottish borders or well into Germany.
However, I often call CQ for quite a while without anyone coming back. I know from talking to other regulars they have the same problem, yet I know there is no lack of well-equipped stations who could come on and make life more interesting. One only has to be QRV on the first Tuesday evening of each month when the UKAC is on to hear dozens of stations calling “CQ contest” from up and down the country. Then again, as soon as there are decent tropo conditions and openings, there is more activity. Also, there are the “big guns” who come out for Sporadic E openings.
Part of the pleasure of amateur radio is just talking about radio, comparing notes, discussing the merits of various rigs and antennas, and talking about conditions. I really do not understand what fellow amateurs get out of just lurking, waiting for an opening and not talking to the rest of us.
Come on, everybody, get more active and enjoy talking to the rest of us. Share your knowledge and expertise and let us have the pleasure of making your acquaintance.